The following is from Mr. Jay Hahnkamp from Melrose, Montana. I don’t know Mr. Hahnkamp…have never met the man…but he has some interesting thoughts on the elk hunting “Shoulder Season” in Montana


Elk hunting rules

Elk hunting rules open to comment: Yeah right your comment is highly regarded by the fish and game.

It’s all a numbers game, sell the tags and let the sportsmen try to find a place to hunt. I participated in a shoulder hunt in Meagher County a few years ago. I called 90 times to get a spot. When I finally got in, I was told the problem was there were four FWP agents covering one phone. Naturally I asked what the other three were doing to earn their money, I was hung up on. I called back and was given a crappy day in a crappy location. I then called some area ranchers from the stock growers directory and found lots of area ranchers that needed elk numbers reduced. What ranchers wanted was hunters that wanted to kill an elk, not sportsmen that wanted to drive around and have an elk run out in front of them.

I found the same problem in the Highlands area several years ago. The Smiths put their land in block management to control the elk population. So-called hunters would take all the available days and couldn’t kill any elk sitting in their truck smoking and drinking coffee and beer all day.

Let’s face it, don’t assume by selling tags that the elk numbers are going to get reduced. Hunting is done by less than 10 percent of the population buying tags. If driving around all day on designated and non designated roads constitutes hunting, or if sitting in your truck with the heater running is hunting that’s fine. But as far as keeping the elk population where FWP thinks it should be, that won’t get it done.

The introduction of the wolf was probably the largest factor changing elk hunting in southwest Montana. Elk habitat is not safe for them and alfalfa pastures and gated communities are their new domain.

As long as FWP caters to land owners like Ted Turner, Dave Schuett, and John Erb, then sportsmen will have to take whatever the wolves don’t want.

Jay Hahnkamp, Melrose